Good Afternoon Bermuda:
We are now just five days from the reopening of Bermuda’s Public Schools and welcoming back just under 5,000 pre, primary, middle and senior students. I’ve met with parents and students across the island who are excited about safely returning to school and to a normal routine. I have also heard from and met with parents who are understandably apprehensive about the return to school. To assist with the transition, we have incorporated new protocols and practices to facilitate the safe return of our students and staff.
Over the past few month teams from the Ministry of Health and Department of Education have been working diligently to put these new protocols and guideline in place. On behalf of the Government of Bermuda, I wish to thank the teams for their work. These teams, including the Commissioner of Education, have met with teachers, principals, parents and students and staff to create these guidelines. These guidelines have been used by our private schools to welcome students back over the past two weeks and will be used to welcome all public school students back next week. It has been a tremendous task to produce these guidelines, and we are sincerely grateful for their work.
Traditionally over the summer months, the Department of Education and Ministry of Public Works are busy with summer works within the school buildings for the start of the fall semester. This year the facilities team and Public Works have the additional task of getting the building ready following Health guidelines. Some examples of the types of work that has been carried out to get facilities ready are:
Hand Washing Stations: Installation of hand washing stations have been completed at all schools that have one hundred thirty (130) students or more.
Work in Classrooms: Installation of partitions and doors, internal painting, installation of split units, servicing of doors.
At all school, the teams have removed bulk trash, power washed walkways and rafter, and carpets and mats have been removed from all schools.
Plexiglas shields for Admin Assistants: Plexi-glass shields have been successfully completed for the Admin desks.
Posting of signs: Department of Health and the Department’s facilities team have received internal and external signage work in ongoing and will be completed by 12th September.
Windows and screens for ventilation: This task falls under the remit of the Public Works Section, local companies were contracted to do repairs and additions as part of the summer works schedule. Clear Choice, Island Glass & Commercial Glass are the contractors for these services.
Chlorination of tanks: This work was completed by local contractor James Water Service was contracted.
Status of having custodians and day cleaners in all schools: Eight (8) BIU hotel division workers are currently employed to carry out this service at all preschools. The remaining post will be filled following the completed Human Resources procedures.
I wish to thank the teams from Public Works and Department of Education for their efforts to get the schools prepared for September 14th.
In addition to the summer works just mentioned, The Department of Education has secured large stocks of cleaning and hygiene supplies for schools. These items will be replenished on an ongoing basis to ensure that school have adequate supplies each day.
Schools have been provided with thermometers, masks, face shields, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, gowns and baby wipes at the preschool level, for staff.
Work carried out by the IT Section of the department has included upgrading servers and firewalls; expanding Wi-Fi access in primary schools; and working to secure student and teacher laptops. The team ‘s priority at this stage is to ensure classrooms are fully operational for the return of students.
We will now have remarks and information for parents from my colleague, Minister of Transport, the Hon. Neville Tyrrell JP, MP and specific information about the reopening of schools addressed by the Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Kalmar Richards